Jamie Carragher has suggested Jordan Henderson’s training ground ‘bust-up’ with Luis Suarez helped the midfielder’s Liverpool career following his early struggles at the club.
Henderson signed for Liverpool from Sunderland nine years ago but initially struggled to make an impression on Merseyside, the youngster failing to win favour following the arrival of Brendan Rodgers as manager and coming close to leaving the club for Fulham back in 2012.
The England international remained with the Reds and has since developed into one of the club’s most important players, captaining the side to Champions League success last season and to the verge of an elusive Premier League title.
Last year, Henderson revealed how he was ‘ready to kill’ Luis Suarez during his early days at the club, the pair having a training ground confrontation following the Uruguayan’s frustrations with the young midfielder.
Henderson’s former teammate Jamie Carragher believes the bust-up with Suarez helped to cement his status in the Liverpool dressing room, with Gary Neville having suggested he had perhaps come across as ‘a bit soft’ in his early days at Anfield.
“Yeah I know where you’re coming [from],” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“When he initially came in – and obviously I’d seen a little bit of him for Sunderland but not too much – I just remember early on he backed out of a couple of tackles at Anfield and right away the crowd were like, ‘No we’re not having that’ type of thing. And he was brought in as that type of player.
“I think that’s grown in Jordan a little bit. He’s very intense and you can see that on the pitch, he’s the Liverpool captain or player who’s actually having a go at players, or he’s always in the referee’s face, football means so much to him.
“I think in that first season, he did an interview with me about six months ago where he spoke about the reaction or the little bit of a bust-up he had with Luis Suarez, because he was finding it really tough to almost be accepted in some ways by certain players in the dressing room, whether he was good enough.
“He had a little bit of a bust up, not a major one, with Luis Suarez, a few words were exchanged in training, and I thought: ‘Oh yeah, I like that’.
“Because Luis Suarez was our best player at the time, him and Stevie Gerrard, and Luis was getting frustrated with a pass he gave him or something, and for him to stand up as a young kid at 20 or 21 it just shows how much it meant to him.
“And also how much he’d been going through, where he was a bit like ‘I don’t care anymore, I’m going to have a go at the best player in the club if he’s having a pop back at me’. And that was something evident early on.
“Even when Brendan Rodgers came in, Jordan was almost put in the Europa League team – that’s where I was, I was coming to the end of my career – and we both played together in that team, both desperate to get into the first team.
“And it was well documented that Brendan Rodgers tried to move him on to Fulham, he was upset by that, but he didn’t just accept it, he fought back, and that’s where this character comes from. And I just think if you have that character, that personality, something inside you, you get the rewards at the end.
“And his reward is being the first Liverpool captain to lift the league title in 30 years and a Champions League winner. When he first arrived at the club, no-one would have believed that, but never underestimate people with that sort of personality and character and resolve to change people’s opinions of them.”